The duty of parents to provide for the maintenance of their children is a principle of natural law. A child has a fundamental right in obtaining continued parental care and support. The right to child support is based on this fundamental interest which belongs to the child and not the custodial parent. The determination of New Jersey child support is governed by the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines which presumes the following:
New Jersey adopted an “income shares” approach to allocating child rearing expenses. The “income shares” approach provides that each parent bears responsibility for a pro rata share of child support based upon the parent’s net income.
The New Jersey Child Support Guidelines are based upon the net income of the parties and are applied to all families up to the sum of $3,600 per week as a rebuttable presumption. The guidelines are rebuttably applied on the basis that the award reflects a correct amount unless a party provides proof that a circumstance exists that makes the guidelines-based award incorrect or inappropriate in the particular case. Any time the guideline calculations are modified up or down, a statement of reasons for the deviation and the amount calculated under the guideline shall be provided on the Child Support Guidelines. New Jersey child support is generally calculated based upon the income/income imputation of the parties, the number of children, nature of the parenting schedule, including overnights and allocation of medical, and other direct expenses paid by a parent for their child.
In high income cases where the guidelines do not apply, a supplemental amount must be added to the guideline’s number to account for the excess income. In making a determination as to the amount to be paid by a parent for their child beyond the Child Support Guidelines, the Court considers the following factors:
Generally, support will end upon the emancipation of a child which is defined as when they conclude the fundamental dependent relationship between parent and child are no longer within the parental sphere of influence. Emancipation is not dependent upon the child reaching a specific age. Attaining 18 establishes prima facie but not conclusive proof that the child is independent.
In determining the allocation of higher education for a child, particularly college, the following criteria are applied:
Child support is modifiable on changed circumstances or the maturity of the child. Title IV-D cases are reviewed every three years and consider a passage of time that results in presumptive changed circumstances. However, retroactive reduction of a child support order is prohibited.